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15 Nov 2022

Audi A8 L 4.0 TFSI qu Tip
Imposing exterior
More intuitive infotainment layout
Greater agility on the go
Higher ride quality
Mercedes-Benz S-Class S450L
Elegant and discreet exterior
More impressive cabin layout
High badge appeal
More luxurious cabin materials and upholstery

The Audi A8L offers high ride quality and agility, while the Mercedes-Benz S-Class comes with a stunning design inside and out.


With corporate profits at an all-time high, captain of industry types are no doubt already looking to treat themselves with something special this year.

And it's quite likely that they will be shopping between the two options we have gathered here. The first, of course, is the venerable Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Now in its seventh generation, the S-Class has long been the mainstay of the segment, with its high comfort and brand appeal.

The Audi A8L (right) is the longer car, at 5,320mm, while the Mercedes S450L stretches 5,289mm long
But new competition for market share now comes in the form of this chiselled Audi A8L, which swings into this comparison now in its fourth iteration, and with the added benefit of having received a mid-life facelift.

There is, of course, also a new BMW 7 Series here as well, but since a press car couldn't make it in time for this shootout, we're going to leave it for a future comparison.

So, between the Audi A8L and the Mercedes S-Class, which luxury barge should the members of upper management make their year-end festive treat?

Corporate image

Both cars take quite a different approach to woo their esteemed clientele. Where the Audi imposes with its angularity and slab-sidedness, the Mercedes is rounded, and subsequently looks almost discreet in comparison, especially now that the grille of the Audi has been made more prominent in this update.

The interior of the Audi A8 (left) is restrained, while the Mercedes S-Class is designed to impress
But step inside both cars and you'll find this design ethos flipped the other way round.

Where the Audi is restrained with its conventional dashboard layout, the Mercedes is instead irresistibly flamboyant, offering a vertically-oriented infotainment screen, alongside a wide array of colours within its ambient lighting system.

Gearing and leverage

Design choices aside, if you have a hands-on management style, I reckon you'd prefer the Audi. From behind the wheel, the controls in the A8L are simply more intuitive. Where Mercedes' MBUX utilises different layouts for its various sub-menus, the options in the Audi's MMI are laid out into neat rows.

Audi's MMI system (left) is more intuitive to use, while Mercedes' MBUX system offers up more interesting graphics
Feeling a little warm? All your air-conditioning and seat ventilation options are all housed neatly within the lower of the two dashboard screens in the Audi.

In the Mercedes, you'll need to tap on that 11.9-inch display to your left to adjust the air-conditioning, but the seat ventilation controls here are grouped together with the seat adjustment controls, on the door panel to your right.

And even if you are a hands-off type of leader and prefer to sit in the back, the Audi will not only reward with more kneeroom, but also a greater sense of airiness, thanks to its standard panoramic sunroof, even if you do opt for the 3.0-litre variant. Having said that, there's an undeniable appeal that comes with the quality fashion with which all the switchgear operates in the Mercedes.

The Audi A8L (left) offers more knee room at the rear, but the Mercedes S450L counters with plusher surfaces and leather
The air-conditioning vents here click in satisfying fashion, the sunshades fold up without making a sound, and those pressure-sensitive seat adjustment controls make finding a comfortable seating position easy. And the Nappa leather used in the Mercedes feels significantly more luxurious next to the upholstery in the Audi.

Profit motive

Take both cars out for a drive and it's the Audi that stands out from between the two. Both cars are unquestionably quiet on the go, but the Audi A8L just feels a touch more comfortable. Where the Mercedes is content to simply glide along, the Audi effortlessly mashes pitted roads into non-existance, permitting nothing but the sharpest edges to stir the cabin.

The Audi A8L (left) feels more agile on the go than the Mercedes S450L
And the Audi feels the more agile car of the two as well, with a quicker steering that is also marginally more communicative. Body roll, meanwhile, is also better kept in check in the A8L.

Only the V8-powered Audi A8L was available for this shootout, while Mercedes offered the S450L, powered by a 3.0-litre six-cylinder.

So, perhaps it is not entirely fair to state this, but on the go I also found myself wishing for more vocals when behind the wheel of the Audi, while appreciating the cabin insulation of the Mercedes whenever it had to stretch its six-cylinder unit. The engine in the Audi A8L has a perceivable edge in aural refinement here.

One for the books

So, which of these two should you opt for?

The slab-sided design of the Audi A8L (left) makes it look more imposing next to the discreet elegance of the Mercedes S-Class
Over the course of the half-week that we had the two cars, the Audi A8L constantly impressed with its depth of competency. There's a quality ride and quality drive here that makes it the car that will better suit those that not only like to be ferried about, but will also take the helm for themselves for the weekend drive.

But I still found myself inexplicably drawn to pick the keys to the Mercedes S-Class every time I left the office.

The luxurious materials employed in the cabin, alongside the fact that it is, after all, the Sonderklasse, still held irresistible appeal. And I think much of our island's old money will appreciate its discreet exterior design as well. Looks like its time to check with accounting if there's enough budget in the books for a personal driver.

Looking to compare more cars? Check out these other Group Tests

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Honda HR-V lines up alongside the Peugeot 3008

Mercedes-Benz CLA180 goes head-to-head with the BMW 216i Gran Coupe
Car Information
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Audi A8L Mild Hybrid 4.0 TFSI qu Tip (A)
Rate it

Price

: $704,675

Engine Type

:

V8 Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

3996cc

Horsepower

:

338kW (453 bhp) / 5500 rpm

Torque

:

660 Nm / 4500 rpm

Transmission

:

8-speed (A) Tiptronic

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

4.5sec

Top Speed

:

250km/h

Fuel consumption

:

8.1km/L

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Mercedes-Benz S-Class Mild Hybrid S450L 4MATIC (A)
Rate it

Price

: $627,888

Engine Type

:

6-cylinder in-line 24-valve Twin-Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

2999cc

Horsepower

:

270kW (362 bhp)

Torque

:

500 Nm / 4500 rpm

Transmission

:

9G-Tronic (A)

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

5.1sec

Top Speed

:

250km/h

Fuel consumption

:

10.9km/L

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